RFS Stakeholders Keep Close Watch on D.C. in September

Legislators' return may bring debt ceiling package and renewable fuel standard rollback

Published on: Sep 4, 2013

When Congress returns from break later this month, Renewable Fuel Standard stakeholders may have some legislation to keep a close eye on.

According to the Oil Price Information Service, if the House Energy and Commerce Committee chooses to reform the RFS, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor could use a debt ceiling package to fast-track the legislation to passage.

OPIS says Cantor outlined the debt ceiling option in a D.C. meeting with oil industry executives at the end of July.

The Committee spent several days in hearings before summer recess studying the both supporters' and opponents' views of the policy, which mandates that 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuel be produced in 2013.

Legislators return may bring debt ceiling package and renewable fuel standard rollback
Legislators' return may bring debt ceiling package and renewable fuel standard rollback

During the hearings, lawmakers listened to testimony from both petroleum and renewables groups, weighing options for either retaining the current RFS volumes and allowing the EPA to continue monitoring future levels, or using legislative action to decrease volumes.

Several proposals to eliminate or reduce the RFS have already been proposed, and just last month petroleum groups argued that present standards will be more than the market could handle, advocating a partial waiver.

RFS opponents cite the "blend wall" – the point at which mandated ethanol levels will saturate the E10 blending availability – for RFS repeal or revision.

While the House Energy Committee has been relatively quiet about a forthcoming decision on the next steps for the RFS, Congress does face a mid-October deadline to address the debt ceiling, according to the Treasury Department's Secretary, Jacob Lew.

That deadline puts pressure on the House to not only pass legislation, but potentially whatever is tagging along with it.

According to OPIS, the decision to attach RFS reform to a debt ceiling deal is just one of the options he is exploring.